Why You Shouldn't Trust "Experts"

Approximately 20 years ago Michael Mann was the lead author of a paper which purported to reconstruct historical temperatures back to 1400 AD, with a follow-up paper extending his work back to 1000 AD. To test the validity of his results, Mann calculated a number of verification statistics. He published a number which were favorable but hid some which were abysmal. He then helped write a chapter for an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in which he said his reconstruction "had significant skill in independent cross-validation tests" even though he knew his reconstruction failed one of the tests miserably, something nobody could know because he had hidden that fact. Because of his deception, his reconstruction went on to become the most impactful graphic in the global warming movement, making him famous. Two decades later, the climate science community still defends him, his work and his behavior.

Today I"m going to discuss an exchange I had with a oceanographer who promoted himself as an "expert," often ridiculing me for daring to disagree with him even though he was wrong about everything he said. The falsehoods, often blatant ones, the arrogance and the rudeness we'll see from this "expert" is a hallmark of people who defend Michael Mann, which unfortunately, still makes up a significant portion of the climate science community. As for the rest, those who don't actively defend Mann, they will studiously avoid looking at or caring about Mann's blatant falsehoods. In doing so, they enable Mann and his scientific fraud to go unanswered. Because of this, I feel justified in saying there is no integrity within the climate science community.

This exchange came about because of a discussion related to the lawsuit discussed in the last post. For a quick summary, Michael Mann filed a defamation lawsuit against a man named Tim Ball for criticizing him. That case was recently dismissed. There is dispute over the reason for the case being dismissed, with some people claiming it was because Mann refused to disclose material related to his old temperature reconstruction, commonly referred to as the "hockey stick." While discussing the dispute on Twitter, a oceanographer named Gilman Ouellette joined the discussion, saying:

I explained part I explained in the last post, about how people are not saying Mann failed to publish his data, but rather, other material such as the results of validations tests he ran, specifically, the r2 verification statistic for his temperature reconstruction. Ouellette responded:

I pointed out the fact Mann published some results of his validation testing does not mean he published the ones in question:

Ouelette then proceeded to claim the data table he directed me to contained those results:

In response to me pointing out the only r2 verification statistics published in that table for a different reconstruction Mann created, not his temperature reconstruction, Ouelette doubled down:

Having explained to Ouelette the only r2 verification statistics in the table he directed me to were not for Mann's temperature reconstruction, Ouelette responded with a strange claim, with his attitude getting worse to the point he said he would have to start charging me money because I was making him do work to find things I should be able to find on my own::

Of course, that was nonsensical as the new results he pointed me at in the table weren't r2 verification statistics so they couldn't possibly show anything I said was untrue. I pointed that out, then I proceeded to cite the actual r2 verification statistics for Mann's temperature reconstruction to show the actual results didn't match anything in the table Ouelette kept claiming contained them:

Which produced two strange responses from Ouelette:

The first tweet took the fact I could cite what the results of tests were as contradicting the idea Mann never published what the results of the test were. That, of course, is silly as it's quite possible for more than one person to perform the same test.

The second response is just hilarious as the results I cited were not only from a scientific paper, they were from a paper written by two colleagues and sometime co-authors of Mann's to defend his work.

Ouelette then responded:

And proceeded to block me so, presumably, he could feel superior about how he had "won" the argument and proved me wrong. Only, what he said was nonsense. The table in question:

Clearly says it provides "scores for MBH reconstruction emulations." MBH is shorthand for Mann, Bradley and Hughes, the three authors of the work in question. The word "emulations" refers to the fact Ammann and Wahl reproduced Mann's temperature reconstruction as part of their analysis of it. Ouelette derided me, suggesting I'd know Ammann and Wahl did their own reconstruction "if [I] had read the study." Only, if a person were to read the study, they'd find Section 3, Results, begins with:

Our emulation of the MBH98 results is shown in Figure 1. The Northern Hemisphere mean surface temperature reconstruction (WA) is nearly identical to the original MBH98 reconstruction (Fig. 1, red and grey lines).

Showing Ammann and Wahl emulated Mann's temperature reconstruction as part of their study. The results I showed were the results for that emulation. Ouelette's claim the results were for a new reconstruction Ammann and Wahl made is a blatant fabrication that requires one intentionally avoid looking at what the results are described as and/or what the paper says of them. Ironically, this was done by a person who derided me for supposedly not having read the study.

Naturally, after promoting this blatant fabrication, Ouelette blocked me. Had he not, it would have been impossible for him to defend what he said. The timing may be coincidental. It doesn't really matter. Michael Mann lied to the world, committing scientific fraud by hiding adverse results while promoting favorable ones. This fraud played a large role in shaping the global warming movement over the last 20 years.

And not a single global warming advocate will speak up about it. Either they'll remain silent, they'll dismiss this controversy as unimportant or they'll resort to bizarre arguments like Ouelette did to defend Mann. That is how the "experts" of the climate science community behave. They either defend, excuse or ignore scientific fraud in the single most visible scientific publication of the global warming movement.

That is why you shouldn't trust "experts." It's not that experts in fields aren't competent or capable of producing good work. Many are. But they're also quite willing to create situations where they, at least tacitly, excuse or even promote outright fraud.

3 comments

  1. Brandon,
    I don't find his behaviour in any way unexpected. Wrong, yes. But it is typical of a certain kind of academic mindset that I encounter all the time (I work in academia) that is very narrow minded, unable to contemplate they might be mistaken, and only too keen to show how the other person(s) in an argument are wrong. Even when the other party is right. And obviously so.
    I come into contact with such individuals on a regular basis when attending seminars and the like. And just try tell them they've made a mistake...!
    So all-in-all, this is what to expect.
    My theory is that a career in research attracts a certain kind of individual. It has been suggested that academics, for instance, are along the Asperger's syndrome spectrum. If so, it would explain a lot.
    My 1/2p advice is not to get upset when you find yourself in disagreement with such individuals. It is my suspicion that the kind of mindset you've encountered (perhaps best described as "economical with the truth") is very prevalent in areas that border on the body politic. Climate science (if it is such) falls squarely into that field.
    But keep up the good work. I really enjoy reading your posts and your thoughts.
    Peter

  2. Peter, I haven't seen anything which would make me think this sort of behavior has any connection to being an academic. Quite the opposite. I've seen this sort of behavior in all walks of life. It's a sad inevitability of life. Any time you attempt to have a meaningful discussion, people like Cedric Katesby will be there with a complete disregard for evidence, logic or rationality. All they'll care about is being right, or more accurately, feeling right. It's not being correct that matters to them. It's feeling correct, having the sense of superiority which can come with saying, "Hah, I showed him."

    That's why I find it more enjoyable to write without trying to draw people's attention to what I write. I often think people should pay attention to something I've discovered, but the experience of dealing with other people rarely feels worth it. The problem is there is when I write for myself, it can feel tedious to go through everything. If I understand the details and nuances of a point, writing 1,000 words to explain them can feel like a chore.

    Still, I enjoy it overall. I just wish the recent publication of underlying material for the latest IPCC report didn't give me so much to work with. I have 2,000 words of a post written already, and I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of one issue. I already know of at least two more issues I want to cover. If only writing paid my bills so I had more time for it 😛

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